Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Filling the Void

Abby says:

What happens when the task you spend 90% of your time doing suddenly goes away one day? Without notice, there is a big, scary, lonely void to fill. My friends are there.

Sheri has spent the better part of two years caring for her in-laws. One day they just showed up from Mississippi and moved in "temporarily" with Sheri and her husband. Two years and lots of unexpected care giving later, her mother-in-law suddenly died. Six weeks after that, the father-in-law died too. While Sheri tried to "have a life" during all of this, it didn't work too well in my opinion -- as an outsider looking in.

My other friend "S" is in a similar boat. Her mother is about to turn 93 and has been "on the verge of death" for at least two years. She is the only sibling living here in town, so everything has fallen to her. She bores the entire burden (quite graciously I might add). She told me last night, the end is truly here.

I wonder, how will my two friends fill the voids and how does one begin to cope with that feeling of total emptiness? Even after someone passes, and the caregiver is relieved for many reasons, it's still difficult beyond imagination. After the grief lies the thought of "what do I do now".

Sheri says:

There are many of us in this boat. It’s almost like Noah’s ark; we’re boarding two by two.

I can’t deny that trying to have a normal marriage, deal with household issues and children, plus dealing with elderly care did not have an impact on my life. I am still picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to my business. Abby is right. Care giving turns you into a different person.

I am grieving and I miss my in-laws. But, I am proud of my efforts on their behalf. When I look at the void, I am excited. Our children are building their own lives. No one is harping at me to take them to the hospital or deal with medications. Business opportunities are mine to pursue. I don’t have to turn down trips because I’m afraid of my in-laws burning my house to the ground.

Yes, there’s a void. There are also a lot of experiences that I’ve had to bypass in the last few years and I’m ready to join the world again.

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